The Student Room Group

Unsure about A-level choices?

I've just finished my GCSEs and I've taken maths, further maths, chemistry and physics A-levels.

I don't really know which career I want to do, but I would really love to do a natural sciences degree at Cambridge, or maybe Durham or Imperial. I'm predicted 9s and if I continue to work hard I think I could achieve the required A-level grades too. I think the best career for me would be something where I could use my science/maths skills tied in closely with my job, like in a chemistry lab or research facility like CERN (if I do well enough!).

The thing is, my parents are really keen on me doing a more vocational degree like medicine, engineering, IT or finance, and those aren't really things that I want to do. I think I would much rather enjoy a more science based career than those; being a doctor seems stressful to me, engineering doesn't incorporate as much science as I would like it too, I don't really enjoy coding and as far as I'm aware at least the maths involved in finance is more arithmetic based and not theoretical. I really love STEM; I love reading about quantum mechanics and theoretical maths and quite enjoy biology in my own time too (I would have taken it as another A-level if I was able to).

I'm trying really hard to convince my parents that natural sciences (again I'm not set on a career path) is a suitable course for me but I haven't been successful. I know that teaching is an option but I'm not sure if I want to work with kids or teach in a university; they wouldn't be happy with the salary either. They tell me that I'm throwing away my hard work by not doing something vocational and I feel like I'm being really picky and that I'm constantly unable to be enough for them.

Are there any careers that pay and work well after doing a natural sciences course? Or should I maybe change my A-levels and try for something that they would appreciate? I'm really tired of arguing and just want to make them happy.
(edited 10 months ago)
Original post by poly57
I've just finished my GCSEs and I've taken maths, further maths, chemistry and physics A-levels.

I don't really know which career I want to do, but I would really love to do a natural sciences degree at Cambridge, or maybe Durham or Imperial. I'm predicted 9s and if I continue to work hard I think I could achieve the required A-level grades too. I think the best career for me would be something where I could use my science/maths skills tied in closely with my job, like in a chemistry lab or research facility like CERN (if I do well enough!).

The thing is, my parents are really keen on me doing a more vocational degree like medicine, engineering, IT or finance, and those aren't really things that I want to do. I think I would much rather enjoy a more science based career than those; being a doctor seems stressful to me, engineering doesn't incorporate as much science as I would like it too, I don't really enjoy coding and as far as I'm aware at least the maths involved in finance is more arithmetic based and not theoretical. I really love STEM; I love reading about quantum mechanics and theoretical maths and quite enjoy biology in my own time too (I would have taken it as another A-level if I was able to).

I'm trying really hard to convince my parents that natural sciences (again I'm not set on a career path) is a suitable course for me but I haven't been successful. I know that teaching is an option but I'm not sure if I want to work with kids or teach in a university; they wouldn't be happy with the salary either. They tell me that I'm throwing away my hard work by not doing something vocational and I feel like I'm being really picky and that I'm constantly unable to be enough for them.

Are there any careers that pay and work well after doing a natural sciences course? Or should I maybe change my A-levels and try for something that they would appreciate? I'm really tired of arguing and just want to make them happy.


You need to remind your parents that it's your future not theirs and that you (I presume?) will be paying for your education through student loans. You say you want to make them happy, but they won't be if you are forced to choose a course you are not interested in and it affects your wellbeing in the future. Get your parents to accompany you to some open days so that they can also learn more about the course. Stick to your guns and do the course that interests you.

A couple of the Lancaster Uni reps study Natural Sciences and might be able to help with your queries about pathways and career options. This is one of the threads they were active in:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7315939
Reply 2
Original post by normaw
You need to remind your parents that it's your future not theirs and that you (I presume?) will be paying for your education through student loans. You say you want to make them happy, but they won't be if you are forced to choose a course you are not interested in and it affects your wellbeing in the future. Get your parents to accompany you to some open days so that they can also learn more about the course. Stick to your guns and do the course that interests you.

A couple of the Lancaster Uni reps study Natural Sciences and might be able to help with your queries about pathways and career options. This is one of the threads they were active in:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7315939

This is really helpful, thank you!! I'll try to stick to what I want. I've had this fight with them quite a few times so hopefully they'll give in.
Original post by poly57
I've just finished my GCSEs and I've taken maths, further maths, chemistry and physics A-levels.

I don't really know which career I want to do, but I would really love to do a natural sciences degree at Cambridge, or maybe Durham or Imperial. I'm predicted 9s and if I continue to work hard I think I could achieve the required A-level grades too. I think the best career for me would be something where I could use my science/maths skills tied in closely with my job, like in a chemistry lab or research facility like CERN (if I do well enough!).

The thing is, my parents are really keen on me doing a more vocational degree like medicine, engineering, IT or finance, and those aren't really things that I want to do. I think I would much rather enjoy a more science based career than those; being a doctor seems stressful to me, engineering doesn't incorporate as much science as I would like it too, I don't really enjoy coding and as far as I'm aware at least the maths involved in finance is more arithmetic based and not theoretical. I really love STEM; I love reading about quantum mechanics and theoretical maths and quite enjoy biology in my own time too (I would have taken it as another A-level if I was able to).

I'm trying really hard to convince my parents that natural sciences (again I'm not set on a career path) is a suitable course for me but I haven't been successful. I know that teaching is an option but I'm not sure if I want to work with kids or teach in a university; they wouldn't be happy with the salary either. They tell me that I'm throwing away my hard work by not doing something vocational and I feel like I'm being really picky and that I'm constantly unable to be enough for them.

Are there any careers that pay and work well after doing a natural sciences course? Or should I maybe change my A-levels and try for something that they would appreciate? I'm really tired of arguing and just want to make them happy.


Hey!

I’m Oliver and am currently a third year in natural sciences studying synthetic chemistry and biochemistry pathways at Lancaster.

Natural sciences is definitely one of the most flexible degrees out there allowing you to study across two or three different departments so is therefore great if you have interests across different disciplines. At Lancaster there are so many different pathways to choose from across all branches of chemistry, physics, maths, biology, geography and psychology, just to name a few. Each university will do pathways slightly differently and a have a varied range of possible combinations so definitely check that out on the relevant websites. The full list of pathways and entry requirements for Lancaster can be found here: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/natural-sciences/

I know there is also there is also the option to take a non science subject as your third pathway and throughout your degree 25% of your credits can be in a non science subject.

There is also the option to alter you pathway choices as you progress through your degree. For me this was extremely valuable as I was able to drop my physical chemistry pathway after first year to allow for a greater focus on biochemistry.

In terms of careers, natural sciences offers you so many different skills from across departments such as numerical skills, problem solving and data analysis which are all highly valued in the workspace especially as interdisciplinary thinking is becoming more and more important. Since natural sciences is such a flexible degree you really do have an abundance of choice when graduating from continuing on with academic or industrial research to careers finance or management.

I had (and still have) no clue of what I wanted to do career wise after university, but studying natural sciences has given me the time and space to follow my interests as they develops as I go through without being committed to a specific path which has been really beneficial to me.

Hope that is helpful and best of luck with your decision 😊 Feel free to ask me any other questions if you have any

Oliver (Student Ambassador)
Reply 4
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hey!

I’m Oliver and am currently a third year in natural sciences studying synthetic chemistry and biochemistry pathways at Lancaster.

Natural sciences is definitely one of the most flexible degrees out there allowing you to study across two or three different departments so is therefore great if you have interests across different disciplines. At Lancaster there are so many different pathways to choose from across all branches of chemistry, physics, maths, biology, geography and psychology, just to name a few. Each university will do pathways slightly differently and a have a varied range of possible combinations so definitely check that out on the relevant websites. The full list of pathways and entry requirements for Lancaster can be found here: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/natural-sciences/

I know there is also there is also the option to take a non science subject as your third pathway and throughout your degree 25% of your credits can be in a non science subject.

There is also the option to alter you pathway choices as you progress through your degree. For me this was extremely valuable as I was able to drop my physical chemistry pathway after first year to allow for a greater focus on biochemistry.

In terms of careers, natural sciences offers you so many different skills from across departments such as numerical skills, problem solving and data analysis which are all highly valued in the workspace especially as interdisciplinary thinking is becoming more and more important. Since natural sciences is such a flexible degree you really do have an abundance of choice when graduating from continuing on with academic or industrial research to careers finance or management.

I had (and still have) no clue of what I wanted to do career wise after university, but studying natural sciences has given me the time and space to follow my interests as they develops as I go through without being committed to a specific path which has been really beneficial to me.

Hope that is helpful and best of luck with your decision 😊 Feel free to ask me any other questions if you have any

Oliver (Student Ambassador)

Thank you so, so much!! I didn't realise you could switch pathways after some time; I just assumed you picked certain modules and continued with them throughout. I'm glad it's such a flexible degree as I still don't know what I want to do career wise and am pretty sure I won't later on XD, I'm thinking something heavily maths related hopefully. I've done really well in my GCSEs as well so I should be able to have some success. This is really helpful, hopefully I can show my parents this, thanks!!

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